Changes to Make

Ridding yourself of bad breath may be a several step process. By following a step-by-step program you may find the cause of bad breath and be able to eliminate the problem. Try this program over several weeks and see what works for you.

Oral Hygiene
Practicing good oral hygiene is always important, so start here. There are three areas of concern in the mouth: the tongue, teeth, and gums. Brushing your teeth, flossing, and cleaning your gums, followed by rinsing thoroughly, will help minimize the problem by removing the buildup of bacteria. The tongue may be loaded with decaying food particles and bacteria that cause bad breath. Brushing or scraping your tongue first thing in the morning and before bed will help eliminate the problem here. By removing the buildup of decayed material, a major breeding ground for bacteria, you will reduce your plaque as well. The plaque leads to periodontal disease, which, in turn, can lead to heart disease. So this oral hygiene step is very important to your overall health!

• Get your teeth cleaned and any cavities filled. Plaque and cavities are a great breeding ground for the bacteria that cause bad breath.

• Another way to improve your oral hygiene is to use a water pik after breakfast. Put an ounce of hydrogen peroxide in the water.

• Try brushing your gums and tongue with some powdered cloves or myrrh.

• Brush your tongue twice a day with a toothbrush soaked in chlorhexidine (an antibacterial agent).

• Swish water around in your mouth after each meal or snack. This will reduce the food particles or drink residue (primarily sugar) that may lead to your bad breath.

Although mouthwashes will solve some of the immediate problems, you must get at the root of the cause. Mouthwashes in general are only a temporary mask for the problem, and their effects last only half an hour or so. Gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash. Try to find a mouthwash that has as little alcohol as possible, as the alcohol will make the problem worse! Also, frequent use of a mouthwash with more than 25% alcohol has been linked to an increased incidence of oral cancer. For a non-alcoholic mouthwash, use a mixture of 50% hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) and 50% water, and swish it around for 30 seconds and expectorate.

Your saliva is important in the fight against bad breath as it suppresses bacteria that cause it. Anything that reduces the saliva output, such as alcohol, antianxiety drugs, smoking, stress, and medications such as decongestants and diuretics, allows the microorganisms to proliferate.

Eliminating certain types of foods, such as high-fat foods, meat, sugar, exotic spices, and dairy products is the next step in pin-pointing the cause of bad breath. The types of food you eat may be one of the reasons for your bad breath. Acidic foods, for instance, create an environment for bacterial growth. High-fat and high-protein foods may not digest well and give off gas. Some people have a hard time metabolizing meat and dairy products, with the result being bad breath.

Sugary foods are a problem as the bacteria in the back of the throat feed off the sugar.

Garlic, onions and exotic spices (such as curry) are common sources of problems for many people. As these foods are digested certain compounds are transmitted from the blood through the lungs and exhaled for up to 24 hours.

Cheeses, such as blue, Camembert and Roquefort, fish, especially canned tuna and anchovies, and spicy deli meats are often the culprits.

Beverages such as coffee and tea are other possible sources of bad breath. They are both very acidic. Cut back on these and see what happens.

Eat more fruits, especially kiwi, papaya and pineapple, which contain digestive enzymes. Vegetables are very important, too, especially leafy green ones.
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